Category Archives: Considering…

Yahweh’s Deep Love

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Yahweh turned rivers into wasteland,
springs of water into sunbaked mud;
Luscious orchards became alkali flats
because of the evil of the people who lived there.

Then He changed wasteland into fresh pools of water,
arid earth into springs of water,
Brought in the hungry and settled them there;
they moved in–what a great place to live!

They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards,
they reaped a bountiful harvest.
He blessed them and they prospered greatly;
their herds of cattle never decreased.

But abuse and evil and trouble declined
as He heaped scorn on princes and sent them away.
He gave the poor a safe place to live,
treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep.

Good people see this and are glad;
bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks.
If you are really wise, you’ll think this over–
it’s time you appreciated Yahweh’s deep love.

You called out to Yahweh in your desperate condition
He got you out in the nick of time.

He spoke the word that healed you,
that pulled you back from the brink of death.

So thank Yahweh for His marvelous love,
for His miracle mercy to the children He loves!

~thoughts from Psalm 107, The Message

Freckles and God

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Why don’t people love God?
What’s not to love?!?!?

He created you to be you.
He knit you together in your mother’s womb.
He knew you in the deep, dark recesses of your emergence.
He created your thoughts and your feelings.

And, He freckled you!
He mixed together all the variations of color to make you, YOU!

My frame was not unseen by you when I was made secretly, and strangely formed in the lowest parts of the earth. ~Psalm 139:15 (BBE)

Oh, the first time I heard that He is responsible for all these freckles that COVER my body, I was amazed and finally thankful to understand it was His plan all along!!!?!!!

He was the one to blame for all those years of incessant teasing.
He was the one who decided I needed to be the laughing stock of my classmates.
He was the one who determined I would be explaining my freckles to my students and strangers, my children and their friends, nieces and nephews, and someday, hopefully, grandchildren!! Children notice differences…and the little freckled-faced-red-headed-kid can become the brunt of much teasing, and sometimes, bullying.

My nephew asked the other day if I had freckles everywhere. In response I sang the little ditty,

“She’s got freckles on her but(t) she’s pretty.”

He grinned with embarrassment, knowing the common verse in our family. Thankfully, my mom and dad sang it often to bring a smile to my face after another day of relentless teasing at school. I did realize, to some, my freckles were beautiful.

The first time my son noticed the different colors of people, we were standing in line to get some ice cream. The lady behind us was of African descent and he was impressed with her skin color. He exclaimed,

“Look, Mommy! She’s covered in chocolate.”

His being two years of age and not having any clue of the racial tension such a comment could create, I smiled big and gave her a wink while explaining to my guy,

“Yes, and you’re vanilla. I guess I must be chocolate-chip!”

After years of hating my looks, how did I come to a place of acceptance? I mean, come on people! Haven’t you stared at someone with huge dark freckles — not the little pinprick adorable ones, but the big-splotchy-you-can’t-figure-out-what’s-all-over-her kind — and wondered what you would do if you had to deal with that? I know you have, because I’ve seen the wide-eyed stares all my life and I still get the questions.  Although, thankfully, they’ve faded considerably since my youth.

Once, when I went for a ManiPedi, I noticed the manicurist staring at my arms in confusion. I asked if she had ever seen anyone with so many freckles. Her response:

No. But, I’m not scared.

Wha?!? In that moment, I realized some people may think it’s a disease. (Sigh.) I quickly let her know that I’m not contagious and they wouldn’t rub off, that God had chosen to freckle me in this way. He has a sense of humor and, in His mind, I must be beautiful for He declares through His servant, King David:

I am skillfully and wonderfully made!

You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. (NLT)

In the ancient Hebrew it could say:

I was freckled in the dark of the womb.

Wow.
Just wow.
He wrote that verse for me!

I was twenty-eight when I first saw the truth. The Bible teacher had no idea of the amazing affirmation that verse spoke to me. Me!?! One who had questioned His love because of the years of torment I endured. How could I be loved by the God of the Universe when I was so ugly and freakish to those I met day-to-day? Boys, following me home after school, would yell taunts and further humiliate my fragile esteem. Until high school I felt I was the ‘goon’ [Popeye reference] of my class. It had been a word used in reference to me and some words are very hard to erase from the memory.

But, the truth sets you free!

I finally understood what the Creator, our Elohim, had done.  He skillfully wrought me in the depths of my mother’s womb to be the person I am today.  It was an act of creation formed in love.  He knew the purposes and plans He had for me.  He knew what all I would endure over such a silly thing as freckles.  And yet, He moved forward in decorating me just as you see me today.

Still freckled.
Still with a fragile esteem.
Yet, thankful.

I am thankful for the love of the Potter in strangely forming this simple piece of pottery.
It is up to the Potter to determine if a vessel is to be used for honor or shame. 
And, whichever He chooses — knowing the moments of our lives have made us into the people we are today —

It is for His glory.

What’s not to love?!?

A Dehumanizing Cycle?

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I’m reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.  My son picked it up from a friend and was so challenged by Miller’s thoughts, he wants us to check it out and let him know what we think.  I’m only on chapter 8, but he has said many things I find compelling.

You must know the premise of the book is to explain Christian spirituality without using religious thoughts.  Quite a difficult task for me, having grown up in the church and being mostly sheltered from modern-day culture.  Yes, I would fit best in the 1950’s, I think.

In the chapter called “Redemption,” Miller explains the struggle with sin:

“…that’s the tricky thing about life, really, that the things we want most kill us.  Tony the Beat Poet read me this ancient scripture recently that talked about loving either darkness or loving light, and how hard it is to love light and how easy it is to love darkness.  I think that is true.  Untimately, we do what we love to do.  I like to think that I do things for the right reasons, but I don’t, I do things because I do or don’t love doing them.  Because of sin, because I am self-addicted, living in the wreckage of the fall, my body, my heart, and my affections are prone to love things that kill me.  Tony says Jesus gives us the ability to love the things we should love, the things of Heaven.  Tony says that when people who follow Jesus love the right things, they help create God’s kingdom on earth, and that is something beautiful.

I found myself trying to love the right things without God’s help, and it was impossible.  I tried to go one week without thinking a negative thought about another human being, and I couldn’t do it.  Before I tried that experiment, I thought I was a nice person, but after trying it, I realized I thought bad things about people all day long, and that, like Tony says, my natural desire was to love darkness.

My answer to this dilemma was self-discipline.  I figured I could just make myself do good things, think good thoughts about people, but that was no easier than walking up to a complete stranger and falling in love with them.  I could go through the motions for a while, but sooner or later my heart would testify to its true love: darkness.  Then I would get up and try again.  The cycle was dehumanizing.”

The next chapter, “Grace” begins:

“I was a fundamentalist Christian once.  It lasted a summer.  I was in that same phase of trying to discipline myself to ‘behave’ as if I loved light and not ‘behave’ as if I loved darkness.  I used to get really ticked about preachers who talked too much about grace, because they tempted me to not be disciplined.  I figured what people needed was a good kick in the butt, and if I failed in godliness it was because those around me weren’t trying hard enough.  I believed if word got out about grace, the whole church was going to turn into a brothel.  I was a real jerk, I think.”

Hmmm…what do you think?